– “There is one word in America that says it all, and that one word is, ‘You never know.’” –Joaquin Andujar
This is Tyler Schmidt. He’s one of the Oilers training camp invites headed for Edmonton in the fall. He’s a 6.01, 211 pound "stay-at-home" defender and an extreme long shot to make the NHL.
Schmidt didn’t have one outstanding skill in his draft year and remains a guy who looks like a "tweener." However, you never know and good for the Edmonton Oilers procurement department for extending the invite.
You never know
The problem is you never know. The girl with the thick glasses and the sniffles who sat next to you in grade 4 turns into the most beautiful girl in the world overnight and you’re left wondering how on earth you missed it.
The Edmonton Oilers have had plenty of good fortune with undrafted kids over the years. Charlie Huddy is probably the most famous undrafted player to have an impact for the organization but he’s certainly not the only one. Randy Gregg, Ty Conklin, Marc-Andre Bergeron, on it goes.
Searching for gold
The Edmonton Oilers are right to be inviting goalies and defensemen to training camp. They look blessed at all three forward slots but the blueline and the goaltending are miles from good enough. History can help a little, and in fact Oilers history offers some clues. Consider this news item from Feb. 1980:
Article is here. I think the Oilers need to send these scouts out to Canadian colleges, Minsk, Montana, and faraway places in search of another Randy Gregg and another Charlie Huddy. The club has shown a willingness in recent months to sign low level free agents and maybe Taylor Fedun becomes something worthwhile.
I do think the Oilers current 50-man list has some players who could be flushed in favor of some mid-20s defenders with some international experience. Finding a gem from a group of defensemen worldwide in the 23-28 year old range would make this rebuild catch fire.
Defensemen like Randy Gregg aren’t terribly exciting, but man they can make a poor defensive team easier to watch in a heartbeat. Surely someone is out there in the wilderness.